With Commander Steve Frick and Pilot Alan Poindexter at the controls, space shuttle Atlantis descended to a smooth landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-122 crew concluded its successful assembly mission to the International Space Station when the shuttle touched down at 9:07 a.m. EST on Tuesday.
The seven crew members of STS-122 exited Atlantis and received brief medical exams onboard the Crew Hatch Access Vehicle. After receiving a clean bill of health by doctors, the crew took a walk around Atlantis to examine the orbiter that carried them safely on their mission. Dan Tani, returning from 4 months of weightlessness aboard the International Space Station, remained in the access vehicle as he began his readjustment to Earth’s gravity.
The STS-122 crew began its mission February 7 and arrived at the station February 9. Crewmembers added the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus laboratory to the station, increasing the orbital outpost’s scientific capabilities. They also delivered a new crewmember to the ISS and replaced an expended Nitrogen Tank Assembly on the station’s P1 Truss.
Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Hans Schlegel and Stanley Love conducted a total of three spacewalks to install and prepare the Columbus module and replace the nitrogen tank.
ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts officially joined the Expedition 16 crew, trading places with NASA astronaut Tani.
STS-122 is the 121st shuttle mission and the 24th mission to visit the space station. The next mission, STS-123, is slated to launch in March.